City officials took the first steps toward realigning ward boundaries to meet the requirements of the growing population.

The last redistricting took place in 2001. At that time the population was 5,000.

Now the population is 7,003, including 1,100 inmates in the Eastern Missouri Correctional Facility on East Osage.

Even though the prison population skews the Ward 1 population, the city is required by federal law to include those numbers.

Some areas that were formerly in Ward 1 have been moved into Ward 2 under the new plan.

Aldermen viewed two possible plans at their Oct. 4 board meeting that could bring the population within the wards into balance.

Large maps illustrating the two possible boundary shifts were shown to aldermen at the meeting.

Aldermen voted unanimously to choose the one plan they said best meets the requirements of redistricting. An ordinance will be prepared adopting the changes to be voted on at the next regular board meeting.

Each ward must contain the same number of people with no more than 10 percent difference. The count is based on all inhabitants, not registered voters, City Attorney Dan Vogel pointed out.

“The goal is that all citizens, of all ages, not just registered voters, should have equal right to representation,” Vogel said.

Districts should be aligned as much as possible into three vertical areas and clusters of voters in groups, such as subdivisions, should be kept together.

The proposed boundary adjustments show few changes in the Ward 3 boundaries.

The selected plan shifts boundaries between Ward 1 and Ward 2, with existing Ward 1 boundaries shifting north, placing some city areas formerly in Ward 1 and in Ward 2.

Writing for the Missouri Municipal League, William Geary noted that Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act to protect the principle of one-person one-vote and to combat the subtle — and not so subtle — means of denying groups of people real political power.

“A city can help avoid a challenge to its districts by using standard redistricting criteria,” Geary said. “Standard criterion includes 1, population equality; 2, compact districts of contiguous territory; 3, retention of neighborhood boundaries; 4, retention of precinct boundaries; 5, retention of other community of interests; 6, desire to retain historic boundaries; and 7, consideration of incumbency.”

Selby said the selected redistricting map is a good one and would best serve the wards and incumbent aldermen.

Aldermen will consider the selected redistricting map at the Nov. 1 board meeting.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in the Tri-County Senior Center, 700 W. Union. It is open to the public.